Seasoned Porsche purists are not thrilled by the bald fact that a bloody SUV is the hallowed sports car brand’s best-selling model, both in Australia and internationally, and another SUV is also Porsche’s second-best seller.
Last year, the updated Macan range racked up 99,944 sales, up 16 per cent, of 280,800 units shifted around the world. Toss the bigger crossover Cayenne in the mix, and the numbers reveal that a smidge under 70 per cent of the company's sales are courtesy of its two SUV models.
Locally, Porsche Cars Australia delivered 4141 vehicles in 2019, an increase of 6.4 percent compared to 2018. The Macan topped the hit parade with 2009 sales, followed by the Cayenne 1352, the 911 on 504, Cayman 156, Boxster 89, and big Panamera sedan 51.
The Macan launched initially in 2014 was an instant success. A facelifted version came along in 2018. Now it runs to a range of four – the base car at $81,800 plus on-roads, the S at $98,200, the recently launched GTS at $109,700, and the new, quicker, more lively 2020 Porsche Macan Turbo starting from $142,000.
The significant changes in the facelifted version are headed by the Macan Turbo’s bi-turbo 2.9-litre V6 engine, seen previously in Porsche’s Cayenne and Panamera models.
The Macan Turbo needed more weaponry – sting and modern features – to muscle up against the hot recent arrivals of the compact luxury performance SUV genre. These are belters like the BMW X3 M Competition ($157,900), Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio ($149,900), Jaguar F-Pace SVR ($140,262), Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe ($117,400) or GLC63 S Wagon ($161,000) and even the cheaper Audi SQ5 ($99,900).
Check those prices and you’ll understand the facelifted Macan Turbo slides into the handy middle ground. But as always in this segment infested with picky well-heeled buyers, the boasting rights come from pure performance and the strength of the badge.
Replacing the old turbocharged 3.6-litre V6, the Macan Turbo gets to use the Volkswagen Group’s punchy 2.9-litre bi-turbo V6 shared with various Porsche models (Cayenne and Panamera), as well as the new Audi RS4 and RS5. It’s part of the latest-generation engine with a central, more efficient turbo layout. Both exhaust turbochargers have been arranged inside the vee of the cylinders.
With a liberal 324kW at 6600rpm and 550Nm between 1800–5600rpm, the new V6 is a thumping 30kW more powerful than the outgoing, bigger-capacity engine. Peak power bangs in 600rpm higher than the old V6, and maximum torque arrives 450rpm higher, though it is distributed across a broader band for greater drivability.
The Turbo variant is the heaviest in the Macan catalogue, at 1945kg (unladen), but even so it will scare many serious sports machines at the lights.
With drive (variable, depending on conditions) going to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic, the latest Macan Turbo moves in an almighty hurry from standstill to 100km/h in 4.3 seconds if you use the launch-control function with the optional Sport Chrono package. Even without the $2390 Sport Chrono it’ll nail 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. That’s 0.3 seconds swifter than the old Macan Turbo. Porsche’s claimed acceleration times, unlike some optimistic numbers from other brands, are impressively repeatable.
Using 98RON, combined fuel consumption is 10.0L/100km, which is a target an enthusiastic driver may find hard to replicate.
The stoppers have also been improved on the 2020 Macan Turbo, with Porsche offering its Porsche Surface Coated Brake (PSCB) system as standard. First seen on the latest Cayenne, but obviously drifting down to smaller, cheaper models, here the discs are coated in tungsten carbide that, according to Porsche, increases brake response and friction, and spews out up to 90 per cent less brake dust than cast-iron brakes.
The Australian-market cars are fitted with self-levelling air springs and ride height adjustment, including PASM – Porsche Active Suspension Management.
Visual updates include a more overtly athletic and assertive look than the rest of the line-up. This extends to a unique fixed double-wing rear roof spoiler and Turbo front apron with three large intakes, as well as the standard LED headlights that include the Porsche dynamic light system (PDLS).
The range-topper also gets exclusive 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheels, and body-coloured Sport Design side skirts and exterior mirrors. Silver twin tailpipes acknowledge the blurty but underwhelming standard sports exhaust.
The cabin is attractive in a sporty Teutonic way – dark leather trim with Alcantara roof lining, optional carbon package, and off-white tacho and speedo gauges.
All Macan Turbos are specified with wonderfully supportive and bum-friendly heated pin-hole leather 18-way electric sports seats (with memory), three-zone climate control, Porsche Entry & Drive, comfort lighting package, Surround View, privacy glass, auto-dim mirrors, and a couple of cupholders. Wine holders in the doors do the job for BYO eateries and dinner parties.
The console design, quite busy and ringed with buttons, is a carryover item. I counted them – 31. Plus, a further 11 on the roof and five more on the dash (with two old-world knobs). Mildly confusing, it is not easy to play with on the go, though familiarity will help.
Infotainment embraces Porsche Communication Management (PCM) with a post-facelift central 10.9-inch touchscreen that hooks up to a 665-watt Bose surround-sound system with 14 loudspeakers plus digital radio and wireless Apple CarPlay with Siri voice recognition. Standard, too, is Porsche Connect Plus, which comes with a telephone module, a SIM card reader, as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot and numerous Porsche Connect services. A smaller-diameter heated GT leather steering wheel adds to the sporty feel.
Macans carry five people, but sitting in the centre rear isn’t for a full-sized adult.
Our test Macan Turbo also came with the showcase of options tallying $44,000 all told, and some worthier than others. The desirable Sport Chrono driver select at $2390, the expensive but pleasing so-called crayon body colour ($4970), adaptive cruise ($2070), and the damned useless panoramic sunroof at $3370.
It must be said (again) that Porsche likes to charge like a panzer division for features that the Koreans and Japanese routinely include way cheaper or at no charge.
How fast and how dynamically adept the Macan Turbo V6 is lies in the eye of the beholder. Someone accustomed to motoring around aboard a regulation mid-sized SUV or off-roader will be blown away by the Macan’s stunning performance and cornering. But anyone raised on, say, a recent-generation 911 or similar will be tougher to convince.
Still, the force-fed Macan is a swift and thoroughly sorted jigger, the broad torque spread and ample power band meaning, in Sport or Sport Plus mode, from 3000rpm it is begging for action. The paddle-shifting PDK responds like a machine gun at the indicated 6800rpm redline.
The self-levelling air suspension and drive-mode select system mean the occupants get the best of two worlds – ride and handling. Even on 21s. Of course, getting out of the comfortable Normal mode into Sport or Sport Plus firms up the dampers and reduces body roll, but makes bumps and rough bits on the tarmac more obvious.
But this is the entrée to more extreme performance, especially when you bone the traction control. With wide, low-profile and grippy Continentals (265/40ZR21 fronts and 295/35ZR21 rears), the Macan Turbo has a great basis for predictable, stable cornering, and it takes some extreme provocation to get the rubber to let go. In low-speed snaky bends, the presence of AWD inevitably means the fronts will lose grip first. Then, it’s just a matter of coming off the throttle and adhesion returns immediately.
The seven-speed PDK also reacts stunningly in the sportier modes, whereas in Normal it tends to be a little lazy shifting gears.
Porsche has done a spectacular job of making its electromechanical steering system feel like the wonderfully communicative old hydraulic system. One point to make: the optional $550 power steering plus, which reduces the resistance of the steering wheel at low speeds, is a feature we could do without. The feedback, for me, is a little blurred by the added level of assistance. Under throttle, too, there was also a bit of judder back through the steering when encountering some imperfections in the road surface.
The now-standard surface-coated six-piston brakes (with larger rotors than the 911 Carrera) are up to the task, though the pedal feel is on the heavy side. Not enough? You can sell one of your children and buy optional carbon ceramics, which are identifiable by yellow calipers.
The soundtrack? I just couldn’t be wooed by the rather genteel aurals. Maybe the sound-isolation people at Porsche have been too good at their job. I accept that jinking around town at 60km/h isn’t where you’ll unearth more than a distant drone. But in a performance machine, I want boisterous seduction as the revs rise. I want obvious induction noise from up front, with a bit of turbine action. I want the sports exhaust to snarl and bark under acceleration, and crackle theatrically on overrun. I want Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and instead I get André Rieu.
This may or may not be an issue, especially for the hearing impaired. Or those who crave quietude. Or others who like to listen to music as they glide about.
Of course, the Macan has a host of standard equipment to aid good handling, starting with the previously listed active (air) suspension management, which has a self-levelling function and ride height adjustment. There’s also a bunch of other standard helpers, including PSM stability control (which the driver can switch off completely for greater playfulness from the Macan) and other acronyms.
The Macan is an AWD SUV, so we should consider its ability away from sealed roads. Yes, it will handle undemanding off-the-beaten-track duties – the off-road button on the centre console hints as much. Still, this is not a Jeep Renegade or a Prado. The Turbo’s road bias is plain.
I’m not sure many owners intend to do lots of towing with the Macan Turbo, but it is rated with a maximum 635kg payload and 2400kg towing capacity. Light duties only.
The 2020 Macan Turbo is fast, safe, beautifully presented and highly capable, at least on tarmac. Still, I question its level of exclusivity. Its popularity as the marque’s hottest seller means you encounter plenty on our roads. I guess that’s why there are so many options boxes to tick. It’s about differentiation and never risking seeing another Macan identical to yours.